Sep. 2—Freeport and Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale/Kents Hill are used to playing close games, and for the second year in a row their matchup was a one-score game Saturday.
The Falcons won the Class D football shootout 39-33 over the Ramblers at Don Roux Field at Lewiston High School. The game was played in Lewiston because Winthrop’s new turf field isn’t quite ready.
“It was a great game. Winthrop is a great team, and I expected them for this sort of slugfest coming down to the end, just like the last two games,” Freeport coach Paul St. Pierre said. “We just made one more play than they did.”
The Falcons won last year’s game 28-21.
Freeport led 33-19 late in the third quarter, but Winthrop marched down the field before the period ended. Even a 16-yard loss on a fumble by quarterback Braden Branagan didn’t stop the drive. On a 3rd and 28, Branagan completed a 22-yard pass to Gabe Beauchense and an 8-yard pass to Dylan Roy to Freeport’s 10-yard line to keep the drive alive.
Early in the fourth, Branagan scored on a 1-yard QB sneak to end the 54-yard drive, and then he ran in for the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 33-27.
Freeport didn’t cross midfield on the next drive and turned the ball on downs at its 48-yard line. Winthrop running back Cody Cobb picked up 17 yards on the ground on the first four plays of the ensuing drive.
Branagan found Ben Porter with a 26-yard pass to the Falcons 6-yard line and had back-to-back 2-yard runs, the last a touchdown to tie the game at 33. Winthrop had a chance to take the lead but didn’t convert the two-point attempt.
“For a guy, that’s first-year quarterback, it was his first start in a countable game, we got 33 points — I know one of (the touchdowns) was on the defensive side,” Winthrop coach Dave St. Hilaire said of Branagan. “Branagan, he’s going to do all right for us.”
After Winthrop tied the game, senior running back Connor DeLois put the Falcons on his back with about four minutes remaining. First, he gained 18 yards on the ground on two carries. Following a delay of game penalty and an incompletion, Adam Michaud’s 21-yard scramper put Freeport at the Ramblers’ 19-yard line. Quarterback Teddy Peters then found DeLois on a swing pass for a 19-yard touchdown and the Falcons took a 39-33 lead.
“I don’t get to call the plays, but I was grateful to get the ball,” DeLois said. “The younger guys stepped up and helped out. The line especially, those blocks came together.”
St. Pierre said he was confident the Falcons would get the go-ahead score.
“We know as long as there’s time on the clock and air in our lungs, we have a chance to score the ball,” St. Pierre said. “They believed that they had that belief. They were fully confident in themselves and they went out and executed it.
Winthrop went four-and-out on its next drive. Then Freeport lined up in the victory formation and kneeled three times to end the game.
The Ramblers opened the game driving from their 37-yard line to Freeport’s 6-yard line but turned the ball on downs.
The Falcons mounted a 10-play, 94-yard drive on their first possession. A 25-yard pass from Peters to Adam Michaud set up Freeport at Winthrop’s 10-yard line. After the Falcons lost 5 yards, Noah Michaud took the ball to the house on a 15-yard sweep play to give the Falcons a 7-0 advantage in the first quarter.
Winthrop’s next possession ended when Noah Michaud intercepted a pass and returned 25 yards before he was tackled at Winthrop’s 10-yard line.
“I was reading the QB eyes, I was playing it; he threw it and I just jumped it,” Noah Michaud said.
Two plays later, Peters aired a 20-yard pass to Adam Michaud on a corner route to take a 13-0 lead.
Cobb helped Winthrop get on the board with 28 yards rushing on a 10-play 68-yard drive. Cobb scored from 3 yards out on his seventh carry of the drive, and the deficit was 13-6 in the middle of the second quarter.
The Ramblers quickly tied the game when Brock Dewar took an interception 25 yards to the end zone to make the score 13-13. Dewar recovered a fumble on Freeport’s next Freeport possession, but the Falcons got the ball back on a fumble recovery of their own on Winthrop’s next drive.
“When we had the pick-6, it was, ‘All right, let’s go. We are back in it,'” St. Hilaire said. “I think that was the one that tied the game. We had some big plays when we needed them.”
After Winthrop got called for roughing the passer, Peters connected with David Ulrickson for a 32-yard TD pass, and Freeport had 19-13 lead with 1:17 remaining in the second quarter.
Cobb then scored on a 9-yard TD run with 41 seconds left in the half to even the game at 19-19.
Freeport regained control with a couple of big plays in the third quarter. Ulrickson caught a 66-yard pass from Peters to give the Falcons a 25-19 lead, and then the next Winthrop drive was stopped on the 14th play when Noah Michaud intercepted a pass and returned it 95 yards for another touchdown, pushing the lead to 33-19.
“To be honest, I thought I was going to get tackled because I was surrounded by a bunch of guys. But I got some blocks from my teammates,” Michaud said.
St. Hilaire summed the game up saying Freeport made plays when they needed them.
“They made more big plays than we did,” St. Hilaire said.
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